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  • Nathan Hunt

Do You Need A Business License To Sell Home Cooked Food In Abu Dhabi?

19th September 2019

Many people in the expatriate communities of Abu Dhabi are making delicious meals for customers within these communities, but is a business license needed to sell home cooked food?

Having a passion for cooking is something that many people have. A sharp rise in home cooked meals being offered on social media is drawing the attention of the UAE authorities and people are being caught out for not having the correct license.

What are the requirements to sell my home cooked food?

Creating your delectable delights at home for sale will require you to obtain a special license from the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED). This is a license that falls under Tajer Abu Dhabi and in effect is a Tajer LLC (Limited Liability Company). Having a Tajer LLC requires an Emirati local sponsor. The Emirati local sponsor is required to hold 51% of the shares in the Tajer license and as an expat you can hold 49% of the shares. The license is initially valid for two years, thereafter it is renewable annually and commercial premises will be required.

Do I need Abu Dhabi Agriculture And Food Safety Authority approval?

The regulations and requirements for entrepreneurs cooking food at home for sale have recently changed. As per current requirements, Abu Dhabi Agriculture And Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) will need to give approval for you to sell your home cooked food once your license has been issued. This is an online process to submit the details and then ADAFSA will arrange an inspection of your kitchen. We advise anyone wanting to do this as a small business to attend an ADAFSA basic food hygiene course as well. This will give the business owner the basics on how to prepare and store food to a safe standard and prevent the opportunity for food born illness.

As the current regulations state, a food establishment must be setup after the initial two-year license expires to be able to renew. This regulation may be re-assessed in the future as it may not be commercially viable for someone with a business license to cook at home to expand into setting up a small kitchen to be able to renew the license.

Can I sell home cooked food through social media?

If your intention is promote your home cooked food using social media or even via a website, it will be necessary to add the following respective activities to the business license to ensure that you are fully covered: e-commerce through social media and e-commerce through websites. Adding these activities will enable you to advertise and sell through the social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, and through your website.

What happens if I don’t have the correct license?

Not having the correct business license will put you at risk of being caught by the authorities. Press reports indicate fines of up to AED500,000 if caught trading without the correct license and promoting your wares via social media.

Furthermore, its essential to consider the repercussions if a customer was to unfortunately get ill after eating your food and report a complaint to the authorities.

Why have the authorities allowed entrepreneurs to get Abu Dhabi business licenses to cook from home?

The Abu Dhabi government wants to encourage entrepreneurs within the Emirate. Having the capability to create delicious food for the community would enable entrepreneurs to try and test the market before making the decision to continue the business on a full-scale basis.


Having the confidence that your food is good enough to sell is only the first part of the journey. Getting the license and being legal is the second part.

If you have the time, passion and determination to have your tasty treats enjoyed by the wider community and make some money at the same time then arrange to speak with Gateway Group. Not only is Gateway Group the authority on licensing and starting new businesses in Abu Dhabi, it also boasts a specialist Food & Beverage division and some of the services on offer will be essential to food business start-ups, especially if you don’t come from a food and beverage background, such as Menu Engineering & Development. As a start-up it will be essential that you know how to correctly cost and portion menus and source the best ingredients from distributors to get the best rates – if you intention is to purchase ingredients from supermarkets and roughly work out costs, then you will likely end up losing money rather than maximising potential profit margins, especially if the long term goal is to grow your business.

Written by Nathan Hunt, Senior Managing Partner

Gateway Group of Companies, Abu Dhabi & Dubai UAE

Nathan Hunt has over 25 years’ experience as a chef. Having worked in Europe, the Caribbean and the Middle East, of which 15 years have been in the UAE, his knowledge and experience of preparing and costing dishes, as well as working with suppliers and the authorities here makes him the ideal person to speak with about starting up your food and beverage business in Abu Dhabi. For a free 45-minute consultation please contact Nathan:


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